Does Facial Exercise Stretch the Skin?

iJacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

You use a bicep curl to tighten the muscles in your arm -- so many contend that exercises to tighten the facial muscles can help tighten the skin. While you do have muscles in the face, exercise to tighten them can have unintended consequences: breaking down the elastic fibers and stretching your skin before its time. Some methods used to stimulate circulation can be beneficial by helping to bring blood and nutrients to the skin to replenish skin cells and send toxins into the lymphatic system for drainage, resulting in temporarily tighter skin. However, facial exercises may prematurely stretch the skin.


Facial exercises involve making movements like pouting the lips, smiling or moving the eyebrows up and down to exercise the skin. Some products on the market to exercise the skin include facial masks that stimulate the skin or that you wear while performing facial exercises. The idea behind facial exercises is to strengthen the muscles underneath the skin, to make the skin appear more lifted and less sagging. However, facial exercises do not build muscle in the same manner as your weightlifting routine. In fact, facial treatments such as botulinum toxin injections work to weaken facial muscles because facial contractions cause lines.

Wrinkle Causes

Your face is the part of your skin exposed the most to the environment, including wind, sun and pollutants. Over time, the elastic and collagen fibers that give your skin its texture begin to break down, which causes wrinkling and sagging. Wrinkling typically occurs at the areas where you experience the most facial movement, such as on your smile lines or forehead when you raise your eyebrows. Facial muscles have very little to do with skin wrinkling. Instead, it is the fibers in skin that contribute to wrinkles and lines.

Expert Insight

Although other areas of the body, such as your arms or legs, may tighten when you engage in resistance-training exercise, facial skin is thinner and more susceptible to stretching. "If you cause unnecessary stretching of the elastic skin, it will cause failure of the elastic fibers and it will sag and stretch out sooner," says Dr. Neal Schultz, a dermatologist speaking on DermTV. "Facial exercise is a total no-no for helping your facial skin and texture.”


Instead of facial movements to tighten the skin, you can practice massage exercises to stimulate circulation, which can be beneficial to your skin. The Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery recommends taking the pads of your fingers to gently massage areas where you may experience facial tension such as the forehead, cheeks and jaw. This can manually stimulate good circulation in your face, which can facilitate lymphatic drainage that contains bacteria, without stretching the face.